Some of South Carolina’s political leaders slowly seem to be getting the message that people want more  about gun violence. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster told The State newspaper his office was reviewing ideas and policies to reduce gun violence but he wasn’t specific about “what, if anything, we can and should do, (and) what would be good for South Carolina and make it safer.”

In Charleston after Monday night violence left nine shot and three law enforcement officers hurt, Mayor John Tecklenburg on Tuesday said the city would pursue eight “action steps” to curb violence, including traffic control measures, shutting down excessive unpermitted events in public spaces and creating accountability standards for landlords.

And one Charleston-area state senator who has been reliably Republican in his views on gun control –  including the right for a person who passes a background check to own a high-capacity assault rifle – said he’d push harder for better background checks. 

“I’m for whatever you can do to improve the federal background check,” said state Sen. Chip Campsen, in a recent interview with the Charleston City Paper. “But the truth is, it’s the federal government’s incompetency. They don’t have to stick with this incomplete, insufficient database while in the same building. They have a much more robust database.” 

That more robust database, he said, allows agents and even businesses to look at warrants, orders issued by judges and documents.

“This is what businesses have access to when they do a background check,” Campsen said. “Why does the federal government prohibit that database from being used for the purpose of background checks for purchase of weapons? It’s much more accurate. If that database had been in play, you probably would have realized that Dylann Roof couldn’t have owned the weapon … And it’s still that way today. Why is that?”

– Chris Dixon and Skyler Baldwin, both of the City Paper staff, contributed to this report.

In other recent news:

Legislature to return June 15.  Members of the S.C. General Assembly will return to Columbia noon June 15 to consider the state’s $14 billion budget as well as any bills that have been pushed through conference committees.

Politics heats up.  As voters started heading to the polls early this week, politics is heating up ahead of the June 14 primary. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mia McLeod is accusing opponent Joe Cunningham of refusing to participate in a televised debate ahead of the June 14 primary. Cunningham rebutted that he had dropped out of the scheduled June 1 televised debate because the sponsors of the televised event were tied to McLeod’s campaign. Meanwhile, in the GOP primary race to represent voters in the 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace’s campaign recently released a 30-second ad asking, “Can we trust Katie Arrington?,” calling out Arrington’s lost security clearance at the Pentagon.

Covid cases increase.  State health officials this week reported 8,648 total new cases  of Covid-19 — a slight increase over last week’s 7,044 — and two total new deaths, compared to last week’s three. As of June 1, 214 Covid-19-positive individuals were hospitalized, and eight were on ventilators, compared to last week’s 199 hospitalizations and eight ventilators.   

This week marks the eighth consecutive week of rising Covid cases in the U.S., according to federal data. The country is reporting nearly 110,000 new cases every day on average, and more than 3,500 virus-positive Americans are being admitted to the hospital each day.

Big broadband grant.  A $7.2 million grant from the Federal Communications Commission will allow a South Carolina pilot program to have three years of funding to enable technology at five federally-qualified health centers and one hospital in a statewide, nonprofit telehealth network operated by Palmetto Care Connections.  The funding will provide broadband internet access services, remote patient monitoring and video consults to 5,000 primarily low-income South Carolinians suffering from chronic conditions and infectious diseases. In addition, according to a press release, “the funding will provide health care provider broadband data connections, a connected care telehealth platform and data analytics to facilitate synchronous telehealth services for an estimated 18,000 patients in 13 counties, an overall average of 80 percent of which are low-income.”

S.C. city populations grow. South Carolina cities have seen a 1.4% increase from recent Census Bureau data. Rural communities, on the other hand, have seen a decline as younger residents flock to larger cities for more opportunities.

This story originally appeared in Statehouse Report.

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